Health and Wellness: Pillow Talk
We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. It’s no understatement to stress how important quality sleep is to our overall well-being. “Sleep should be a major priority,” says Chuck Tolbert, clinical sleep specialist at Specialized Sleep Diagnostics in Roseville. “While you sleep, your body moves through different phases of shallow and deep sleep, which allows your body and mind to realign. This is also when physical healing occurs. [Over time, lack of proper sleep can cause] health problems to occur—everything from fatigue and headaches, to weight gain, memory loss, and more.” To help you hibernate, we asked local doctors and sleep experts to share their tips for getting the best night of sleep each and every night.
“The pre-bedtime routine is underrated,” says Caitlin Siegle, sales manager at European Sleep Design in Folsom. “The success is not in the steps themselves, but in the repetition of these activities and your long-term association with sleep. Putting your phone away, turning the television off—these things are intuitive to us but difficult to execute because we feel bored waiting to fall asleep.”
“Most parents have a routine for kids before they go to bed. Adults also need to do the same for themselves, [including] no screen time 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Other recommendations include meditation or visualization, deep breathing, reading, listening to relaxing music, stretching, or giving yourself a hand massage. Taking a warm bath or shower or drinking non-caffeinated tea can also help set the mood for sleep,” says Analila Valencia, ND, from Revolutions Naturopathic, with locations in Folsom and Roseville.
“Anxious individuals should schedule worrywart time two hours before bed to journal any ideas, concerns, etc., which can often alleviate ruminating thoughts,” advises Kimberly Hardin, MD, professor of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at UC Davis Health and director of UC Davis Health System’s Veterans Administration Hospital Sleep Lab.
“To get the sleep you need, three things [are essential]: giving yourself sufficient time for sleep, the mind switching from busy mode to calm mode (for sleep onset and to maintain sleep), and the ability to easily and freely breathe through the nose,” says Amer Khan, MD, a neurologist and sleep specialist with Sutter Health Independent Physicians and founder of Sehatu Sleep Clinic in Roseville.
“Staying disconnected in the morning allows your mind to wake more gradually, instead of being confronted by the rapid information processing that comes from scrolling on our phones. Meditating before bed can help your mind to quiet and unwind. Stretching in the morning helps your body wake up after being stagnant throughout the night, while doing so before bed can be relaxing for some and stimulating for others; check in with yourself and see how you’re responding,” Siegle says.
Timing Is Everything
“Someone who gets four hours of deep sleep and cycles through two full REM cycles is going to be more well-rested than a person who sleeps for eight hours and wakes up tossing and turning every 30 minutes. Each time we interrupt the REM cycle, it must start over from the beginning and all five stages of REM sleep can take up to two hours to complete,” says Steve Metzgar, chief executive officer at Sleep Choice Mattress Centers with locations in Folsom and Citrus Heights.
“[Don’t] lay in bed for hours watching the clock at night. If you’re unable to sleep for more than an hour, get out of bed and try to do something non-stimulating, like reading a book, listening to calm music, or drinking a warm non-caffeinated beverage, until you’re truly tired and ready to go back to sleep. Stay away from all electronics and bright lights,” Tolbert recommends.
“Don’t over-focus on sleep. Fitbits and other means of constantly measuring one’s sleep can often lead to more anxiety regarding it,” Hardin says.
Set The Scene
“Optimal sleeping temperatures range from about 65-68 degrees. Make sure your bedding is clean and free from potential allergens. The best thing to do is always have a backup set of linens—have one in the wash and one on the bed. An allergy encasement can also protect your mattress from absorbing dust mites and dead skin cells that make it harder to breathe and, in turn, harder to sleep,” says Derrick Compton, vice president of sales at Sleep Choice Mattress Centers with locations in Folsom and Citrus Heights.
According to Compton, “People usually wait an average of two years too long to replace their mattress. A typical one will last structurally for 10 years; however, the comfort life of that same mattress may only last six to eight years, which means your mattress may not break down, but your body will. Once we allow our body to acclimate to the discomfort, we don’t even notice it anymore.”
“When traveling to a new time zone, it can take several days for our circadian rhythm to adjust and get back to its original schedule. Adjusting your sleep time forward or backwards—about a week before your trip—should help you adjust to the new time. And if your schedule allows, don’t be afraid to take a nap,” Tolbert says.
“Stay awake until 10 p.m. local time. Avoid stimulants to [do so] and take short naps. Get plenty of sunlight,” says Robert Chase, MD, ENT specialist with Marshall Medical Center.
“Humans are creatures of habit, and our bodies can take up to 60 days or longer to adjust to a changed level of support. A pillow supports 30 percent of your spine, so bringing your custom-fitted pillow from home essentially gets you 30 percent closer to still being in your bed at home,” Metzgar says.
By Courtney Jason